Pro Evolution Soccer series used to be the top selling football game during the PlayStation 1 era, but its reputation quickly faltered thanks to a string of bad decisions and the emerging popularity of EA Sports’ FIFA series. Despite this, Konami has released an yearly version of the game competing with EA Sports’ FIFA and even though it might lack official license for many of the professional clubs and teams, the gameplay portion of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 remains as engaging as ever, offering more control and physics over the soccer ball.
The first thing to mention here regarding Pro Evolution Soccer’s latest update is that in term of the evolution from last year, it is not a big jump. One of the reason why it feels like this is because of the fact that the biggest upgrade that the game had received was with the transition to Fox Engine followed by yearly incremental updates, but the new content on offer in Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 feels like a letdown. Even if the gameplay is solid and there are some improvements to the gamelay that are a welcome addition for this yearly release. There is less of an incentive to upgrade to the new version if you already own Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, however it doesn’t mean the yearly update is lackluster.
The one aspect that Pro Evolution Soccer easily excels is in its gameplay. The same applies true for this yearly iteration of the series where little improvements to some of the gameplay aspects have made the experience a lot smoother now. The animations are noticeably more detailed so you can feel the smoothness in controls. This comes at the expense of a little slower gameplay but adds more realism to the aspect of controlling the flow of the match. I haven’t really tried more of the Pro Evolution Soccer series so coming off from the EA Sports’ FIFA series, the controls here feel more fluid and require more skill than FIFA which comes across a bit automated at times.
If you are tired of the scripted nature of FIFA gameplay, you will feel right at home with Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. It is a bit of shame that the developers are stuck in a rut when it comes to the licensing issue with the professional leagues but if you can ignore this issue, you will be able to enjoy a great football game. FIFA works overall as a major Football game with its interactive story mode but Pro Evoltuion Soccer, in my opinion, offers the complete gameplay experience. Of course, the fans might disagree here but it all depends on what you prefer in the end.
Pro Evolution Soccer also adds some new modes into the mix. Among them, Random Selection feels like a bit of a wild card. While it was a fan demanded mode that has been absent for a while now, it didn’t really work for me. This offers you a choice to pick a set of players and then you can fight with the opposing team that ends with a way to trade or protect your players. The other new addition and perhaps the most significant one is for the online co-op. You can now play online multiplayer in co-op as 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3 players. The game also support local co-op so you can play with 3 of your friends and compete against 3 other friends online in a match. Again this depends on your own preference and in my case, I didn’t really find it interesting enough to continue playing after the initial excitement. Still there is nothing wrong with offering new ways to play the game.
One aspect of the game that might annoy the dedicated fans is the lack of proper names for the teams and players. This issue is understandable since the license for them is locked out with FIFA but it still sticks out as a sore thumb and puts blemish on an otherwise fine game. I wouldn’t mind to see a story mode added in a future iteration but as it stands, Master League mode offers a good chunk of gameplay and strategic elements for playing the role of a manager and building your team. There are new additional cutscenes added for this year’s update that go a bit further into behind the scenes for a football team. The presentation might not be as great as FIFA, but the experience is certainly better here.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 lacks in the presentation and refinement featured in its competitor. It does offer some pretty visuals and the animations are also touched upon in this new version, but there are still some points where the visuals look a bit inconsistent with the rest of the game. The stadiums and the lighting mode is rather nice and the crowd reacts to goals and other match related moments which is a neat little attention to detail.
Overall, this year’s Pro Evolution Soccer is not a big leap forward but a small step in the right direction and hopefully Konami can keep working on the series and offer a bigger jump for the next yearly iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 is a sports video game developed by PES Productions and published by Konami for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 retains its crown of offering the best gameplay in a football game this year. The lack of new content is disappointing although the improvements to the gameplay somehow make up for it.